Sarah McLaughlin ’23
On the couch, we talked about everything and nothing. A number of things I’d remember, and a number of things I already forget. The movie watched and other movies, the songs we heard and other music, the things we liked about our grandparents and the things we hated, how many of them were still alive, how many memories we had of them taking care of us in our childhoods, the earliest things we could remember, the things we tended to forget, the names and faces from our teenage years we already couldn’t place, what we thought the trajectory of the world might be, what our city might look like in five years, ten years, twenty, whether or not we’d ever want to go to space.
It amazed me how mundane conversations could be, and how easily they could become captivating. It scared me, too, how even in those mundane moments, my attention was captivated by the most unimaginative things, like the curve of her eyebrows, or the way she pronounced piano, or how the shadow above her collarbone changed shape as she shifted.
This was infatuation, I realized, in the hours I spent with her there. It wasn’t seeing someone as larger-than-life, as completely flawless, as the pinnacle of human beauty. It was noticing imperfections and being obsessed with them—not to fix them, like missing punctuation in an essay, but to notice them, understand them, commit them to memory. to see them not as flaws needing correction but as small pieces of a whole, to understand that whole as greater than the sum of its parts.
It wasn’t writing love songs and drawing hearts around their name, it was counting freckles and the ums between sentences.